What this article is about:

  • Career reorientation is more than just a change of job.
  • As a process of personal development, it offers the chance to analyze your previous career path and your interests in order to develop a clear professional vision.
  • Professional reorientation can be seen as a project.
  • Assessing your skills and expertise, defining your professional goal, developing a communication strategy, and the application and networking process are typical project milestones.
  • The process that can be supported and accompanied by a career coach.

A poor working atmosphere, the lack of a work-life balance, rigid presence obligations or working hours that do not fit in with the opening hours of the daycare center: There are many reasons to change jobs. Also, the desire for better income and earning opportunities can lead to a change of job, as does the feeling that the current job doesn’t offer any opportunities for personal development and more responsibility. And sometimes it’s just the desire to do something different.

Love it, change it or leave it: If you are sure that nothing can be changed in your current job (e.g., by talking to your manager), and that nothing can convince you to stay, then you should think about changing your job.

How to successfully change jobs

“It doesn’t fit anymore”: With this thought in mind you have a motivation that leads you away from your old job and you have a lot of knowledge about what you don’t want in the future and what is associated with the past. This is a good start.
However, it is much more important to know for yourself what you expect from the new job and what you expect from the new employer. Imagine you are sitting in a job interview and telling how awful the old job was. Your interviewer wants to hear why you absolutely want to work for their company in this position. At this point, at the latest, you need a clear idea of your objectives for the future.

What is your career goal?

In my work as a career coach, I experience that my clients need their individual time to turn towards the future. Some need time to catch up on the past, while others are already aware of their future goals and are just looking for confirmation or want concrete support in working out their own application strategy.

To find out where you currently stand, you can answer the following questions:

  • What exactly leads to the desire for change (is it intentional / self-initiated or due to external circumstances)?
  • Does your mood correspond to a “it doesn’t fit anymore”?
  • Or are you already turned towards a concrete goal?
  • What are your personal drivers (i.e. freedom, security, professional success, purpose, health, more time for the family,…)?
  • How clear is your picture of possible alternatives to the current job?
  • What actions could you start?
  • What does “career” mean to you?
  • How do you rate your current professional and private quality of life on a scale from 0 (I have none) to 10 (super!)?
  • What should change?
  • What should stay as it is?
  • What speaks in favor of taking the step?
  • What is against it?
  • Who else does your career/professional goal concern (i.e. family, partner)?
  • To what extent do these people support your desire to change?

Career reorientation is a process

When asked “What do you do?” or “Who are you?” we often respond with our professional occupation: “I’m a teacher/doctor/marketing specialist in XY industry.” We understand our profession as a significant part of our lives, as part of our identity. Our work provides not only an income, but also a social environment with colleagues. It gives us confirmation and recognition, can create meaning and enable social status. Accordingly, a professional reorientation is more than just a change of job. It is a process of personal development. With this process, we set the course for the next step in our professional careers aligning it with our life goals.
This process can be associated with strong feelings like uncertainty: The new requires giving up the familiar old, many people who want a career change have little experience with job searches and applications or simply haven’t done it for a long time. They might have to cope with rejection or dismissal. Such inner and outer resistance is quite normal for the development process, and sometimes it is helpful and necessary. At the same time, the process is associated with hope and enthusiasm for what is to come. The professional reorientation makes it possible to broaden one’s horizons, to approach people and to expand one’s own network.

Career reorientation is a project

The professional reorientation is a project that can be done step by step in a structured way. There are some typical milestones that can be supported and accompanied by a career coach.

Assessing your profile

Some of my clients find it difficult to name their own strengths and interests. However, this is the starting point for the journey enabling the definition of your own professional goal. During the assessment of your current situation we look back, reflect on your professional and personal career, record your (life) experiences, skills and competencies, but also your motives, interests and values. With this approach we find answers to the questions “What can I do?”, “What do I want?”, “What drives me?” and “What does a company have to be like for me to make the best use of my skills?”.

Setting your professional goals

Every project needs a goal. With your career goal (“Where do I want to go?”), you define which role in which industries you would like to take on in the future. In this phase, it is very helpful to familiarize yourself with developments and trends in your preferred industry and working field. If you want to stay in your current working field or industry, this research will help you to better convey your career objective and desire to change in upcoming conversations. If you want to change the working field or the industry, this step is even more important to learn more about your desired industry including an assessment of required competencies and skills and how you can meet these needs with your profile. This research will also bring you in contact with people who are already working there.


In the next step, we work on making you visible in your desired market. Based on the first two steps, the assessment of your profile and your goals, we develop your communication strategy and review your application documents as well as your Social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn) so that the contacts at your desired industry find out what your profile looks like, why you want to change and what jobs you are interested in.

Application process and networking

There are many different ways to get a new job. The classic way is to apply for specific job postings from companies. However, only 20% of jobs are filled in this way. Around 75% of jobs go to candidates who are already known to the company. The line manager who has to fill a position already knows qualified candidates of choice and approaches them directly. In the remaining 5% of cases, a position is newly created for an interesting candidate: The person’s qualifications are so interesting that the company decides, “We need someone like this person!”
What does this mean for you? Apply for specific jobs by responding precisely to the requirements of the job posting in your application. At the same time start networking by researching and engaging with companies and line managers in your desired market. Through the previous research of industry trends and the development of your own communication strategy, you’ve internalized your skills profile to be an interesting conversation partner and job candidate. A career coach can help you create tailored applications, network smartly, and conduct (job) interviews.

Decision for a new job

Sooner or later in the application process you will convince with your profile and a company will make you a contract offer. You should now go back to the starting point of the journey: There you had reflected your interests and values and set criteria how the new company should be. Does the company meet your expectations? During the goal setting process, you had determined which tasks and which responsibilities you were aiming for. Does this position correspond to your goal? It will help you to be clear about what is particularly important to you and then make a conscious decision.

Onboarding in your new job

Politicians like to take stock after the first hundred days. It’s the same in a new job: How is the newcomer doing? Does the work meet the expectations? Prepare yourself for what is important in the first days and weeks of work, how best to get off to a good start, build up stable contacts and avoid any potential pitfalls.

One final tip

The start has been made in your new job! Over the past weeks and months, you’ve had many conversations, made new contacts, and networked intensively. Some of these people may have talked to others about you and brought you into the picture as a potential candidate. Inform your network contacts about your new job and thank them for their support. Consider ways in which you can stay in touch with your network. The refreshed and newly acquired contacts are also valuable contacts for your future development.